Can Plecos Live with Turtles

If you are trying to decide which type of fish to put inside your turtle tank, you might have heard that plecos are an option. However, is it actually safe for plecos to live with turtles? Will your turtle try to eat your plecos? Today’s article will explain everything you need to know about keeping plecos and turtles together.

Can Plecos Live with Turtles?

Yes, turtles can absolutely live with turtles. In fact, they are one of the best fish species to put inside your turtle tank.

Will my turtle try to eat plecos

Both plecos and turtles have similar water requirements when it comes to temperature and pH level. Also, most of the time your turtle will not have any interest in trying to eat your pleco. My pleco is pretty fearless of my turtle, and regularly swims near my turtle, event when I am feeding my turtle.

That being said, there are a couple things you should keep in mind when you choose a pleco to live with your turtle. You should consider their size, maintenance, and accessories.


The most important thing to consider when choosing a pleco to live with your turtle is its size. Ideally, you will want to choose a pleco that is at least 2 to 3 inches in length. If the pleco is smaller, your turtle will be more inclined to eat it.

That being said, you don’t want your pleco to be way bigger than your turtle. Smaller turtles will likely be intimidated if your pleco is much larger than it.

Aside from the size of the pleco, you should also consider the size of your tank. In simple terms, the bigger the better. You will want to give your pleco plenty of places to swim and hide from the turtle if needed.


You might be interested in plecos because they are algae eaters. If you have an issue with algae in your turtle tank, then plecos are a great solution. They will wipe your tank clean of algae and can help prevent its growth in the future. If you’re interested in other algae eaters, check out my guide on the best algae eaters for a turtle tank.

While plecos can help clean up algae and other waste, there is a slight downside when it comes to maintenance.

Many people are not aware of the amount of waste that plecos create on their own. To put it plainly, plecos poop a lot. In fact, their poop is much bigger than my turtles. It’s also long and stringy so it doesn’t break down as easily.

Now for some tanks, this might not be a huge issue. If you have a very powerful filter, it will probably be able to take care of most of the waste. It can also depend on your type of substrate. I have a clean white sand, so it is very noticeable when my pleco leaves poop everywhere. However, it would be less noticeable if you have river rocks or a dirt substrate.  

If you are interested in other fish options, you can check out my article on what fish can live with turtles.


Since plecos are algae eaters, I recommend that you get plenty of decorations. This will help increase the surface area of places they can clean/eat. Decorations are also good for your turtle because it helps add variety to their environment.

I personally use driftwood as decorations, and both my pleco and my turtle love it. If you are interested in driftwood, check out my article on the best driftwood for turtle tanks.

Now that you know the basics for keeping a pleco and turtle together, I am going to cover some frequently asked questions.

Will my turtle try to eat plecos?

Most of the time, your turtle will not have any interest in eating your pleco. I’m not sure if it’s due to their size or color, but for whatever reason plecos do not seem appetizing for most turtles.

That being said, turtles do have a natural inclination to eat fish, so even a pleco can end up on the wrong side of the food chain. While it isn’t common, there are some people who claim their turtle ate their pleco. The key to avoid this is to make sure that your turtle is well feed so that they aren’t hungry enough to see the pleco as food.

On the bright side, plecos are extremely fast, so your turtle will have a tough time catching it even if it wants to. The only chance your turtle has is if it catches the pleco off guard.

Can plecos kill a turtle?

I’ve seen some claims online that plecos can kill turtles, but I find it hard to believe that a pleco has the ability to kill a turtle. The only chance is if maybe it is an extremely small turtle, and the pleco tries to suck on its shell for food. This could cause some damage if your turtle’s shell is soft and weak, but even then, death is not likely.


I hope this article gave you some insight into putting plecos in your turtle tank. As I’ve mentioned above, plecos are a great species to put with your turtle, and it’s just important that you choose the right sized pleco and you have a large tank with decorations.

While your turtle will probably not eat your pleco, I do warn people that you should never get too attached to any fish in your turtle tank, because there is always the possibility.

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